Co-Owner and Principal Researcher
Kristal has worked in the domestic US and internationally with many different types of organizations focused on agricultural development, natural resource management and rural livelihood strategies in the context of environmental change. Her interest in how people relate to their natural environment, and in turn impact that environment, began as an Agroforestry Peace Corps Volunteer in Senegal. Her dissertation work with the CGIAR Consortium explored the social dimensions of seed systems in Sahelian West Africa, and the values that farmers associate with the types of seeds they plant and the types of exchanges they use to access seeds. Kristal worked as a research scientist at the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC) at the University of Maryland. There she developed programs that build capacity for and awareness of what kinds of information and support that teams of researchers and practitioners need to utilize and integrate the many types of data required to understand and address complex challenges that have both human and environmental dimensions.
Kristal uses multiple methods, including statistical modeling, qualitative analysis and spatial representation, to explore the social dimensions of environmental challenges. She has experience designing primary research protocols for multi-methods projects, as well as utilizing secondary data from federal and state agencies like the USDA and the USGS, and international organizations.
Kristal grew up in Bozeman, MT, and attended the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill as a Morehead-Cain Scholar. She has a PhD and MS in Rural Sociology and International Agriculture and Development from the Pennsylvania State University.